AN INVESTIGATION has been launched after a Nigerian graduate died in a North-East prison.

Boniface Umale was found unresponsive in his cell in Durham prison at about 5am on Sunday, March 24, a Prison Service spokeswoman said.

Prison staff attempted to revive him and paramedics rushed to his cell but he was pronounced dead at 5.55am.

As with all deaths in custody, the Independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will conduct an investigation.

Friends of Mr Umale, who lived on Strathmore Crescent, in Benwell, Newcastle, have asked the Nigerian High Commission to take up the case.

Writing online, Daniel Okpla, a spokesman for the Idoma community, has raised a number of questions about his death.

A High Commission spokesman confirmed it was aware of Mr Umale’s death but would not answer any further questions.

The 38-year-old, who graduated from Northumbria University with an MSc in project management in 2008, was remanded in custody accused of rape and three counts of sexual assault.

An inquest into Mr Umale’s death has been opened and adjourned. No date for the full hearing has yet been announced.